|Targeted News Service|
When the new form was pre-tested with consumers, it was well received. Experience with the form during fall 2012 open enrollment reinforces these favorable findings. A new, nationally representative survey conducted by Consumer Reports shows consumers who used the SBC reported a good experience, with very few (9%) reporting they were dissatisfied with the clear presentation of the benefits and costs of the health plan. When asked to rate the SBC against other common sources of health plan information, these consumers ranked the SBC above other sources - like employer provided health plan comparisons - in terms of helpfulness.
However, the survey also found that just half (50%) of consumers who shopped for or renewed private health insurance coverage in the fall of 2012 recalled seeing the SBC form. Rates were even lower (35%) for those who shopped for coverage on their own in the non-group market.
"What these results show us is that the Summary of Benefits and Coverage can make a difference in the consumer health insurance shopping experience - but too few consumers appear to be aware of the form," said Quincy. "It's clear that consumers like the form, but in order to get the most out of it we need to find a way to make sure consumers see the SBC when they are shopping for insurance."
The disclosure form includes a new feature, called a Coverage Example, which outlines the consumer's bottom line for a hypothetical medical scenario, like having a baby. The poll found that roughly half of shoppers who viewed the SBC did not remembering seeing the coverage examples.
Quincy said, "While these coverage examples pre-tested very well with consumers, they are near the back of the multi-page document. In order for more consumers to use the new coverage examples when they shop, we would suggest moving them towards the beginning of the form so consumers are more likely to see them."
The Summary of Benefits and Coverage, created by the Affordable Care Act, is available when consumers shop for coverage on their own or choose a plan through their employer. Recognizing the absence of uniform health plan information, Commerce Committee Chairman Rockefeller initially introduced the Informed Consumer Choices in Health Care Act in 2009 to help consumers obtain the information they need to make informed choices about health insurance coverage, before ensuring the SBC's inclusion in the Affordable Care Act. He then ensured the SBC's inclusion in the Affordable Care Act.
The hearing is scheduled to begin at